Sanchez set for Premier League debut, Klopp under pressure
Alexis Sanchez is poised to make his Premier League debut for Manchester United against Spurs on Wednesday as Liverpool seek to halt a mini-slump after their spectacular win against Manchester City.
Elsewhere in a full set of midweek fixtures Chelsea host Bournemouth, runaway leaders Manchester City take on West Brom and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to make his debut for Arsenal against Swansea.
Here are some of the major talking points ahead of this week’s matches.
The Sanchez factor
A few weeks ago Jose Mourinho looked glum, forced to fend off rumours that he is unhappy in Manchester and that he was disappointed with the relative lack of spending power at his disposal. It’s probably too late for Manchester United to catch Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City but Mourinho is looking upbeat after signing a contract extension and boosting his firepower with the signing of Alexis Sanchez. The Chile international sparkled during the routine 4-0 FA Cup victory against lowly Yeovil Town on Friday but it was his hard work as much as his creative play that caught the eye of his new teammates. “Obviously we know his quality on the ball, he’s amazing, but his fight, the way he defends, he’s the first player to defend — I really like it,” said midfielder Ander Herrera
Guardiola wants player protection
Pep Guardiola has called for better protection for players after forward Leroy Sane injured his ankle in Manchester City’s FA Cup tie against Championship side Cardiff. But City are unlikely to get an easy ride against Alan Pardew’s West Brom, who have amassed the second-highest number of yellow cards this season in the Premier League (47). West Brom have three wins and a draw in their past four fixtures in all competitions, including Saturday’s 3-2 FA Cup win at Anfield. But despite their uptick in form, Pardew desperately needs the points to pull his side out of the relegation zone.
Liverpool must regain focus
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were brought quickly down to earth after their stunning victory against Premier League leaders Manchester City, losing their next game against bottom club Swansea. That defeat brought an end to their 18-game unbeaten run and was followed by an FA Cup reverse to West Brom at Anfield. The Cup loss removes their best chance of silverware this season and will further focus minds on the need to finish in the top four. Liverpool are currently in fourth spot, two points clear of Tottenham and five ahead of Arsenal. Klopp admits his side does not have the luxury of time. “A long run starts with the first game and that’s on Tuesday,” he said.
Where will Mkhitaryan play for Arsenal?
Henrikh Mkhitaryan played second fiddle to Alexis Sanchez in the swap deal between Manchester United and Arsenal but he has a point to prove. The Armenia international found it difficult to nail down a starting berth at Old Trafford and may struggle to occupy his preferred creative number 10 role because of competition from the likes of Mezut Ozil. “He can play in different positions,” said Arsene Wenger. “But personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle.”
Fixtures (1945 GMT unless stated):
Swansea v Arsenal, West Ham v Crystal Palace, Huddersfield v Liverpool (2000 GMT)
Chelsea v Bournemouth, Everton v Leicester, Newcastle v Burnley, Southampton v Brighton, Manchester City v West Brom (2000 GMT), Stoke v Watford (2000 GMT), Tottenham v Manchester United (2000 GMT)
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